Globally, climate change is impacting on fisheries and ecosystems in marine and estuarine environments. The negative impacts of change and high variability in climatic conditions are expected to increase and will most likely affect communities that are already some of the most vulnerable communities. Research has shown that aquatic environments are changing through increased acidification of seas, extended seasonal weather, bleaching events in coral reefs, movements in convectional currents and gradual temperature changes to name only some. We are only beginning to understand and demonstrate the prolonged impacts that this will have on the distribution, abundance and behaviour of marine species however effects already noted include;
- foraging and migrational pattern alternation in polar seas;
- fish community changes in bleached tropical coral reefs;
- increased oxygen consumption in fish species; and
- Altered reproductive patterns and behaviors.
Projections of future conditions portend further widespread impacts on the distribution and abundance of fishes associated with relatively small temperature changes likely leading to devastating effects on communities dependent solely on these resources for their survival. MRAG’s research into climate changes includes a hot-spot analysis to determine the country’s most vulnerable to climate change and detailed work into understand the impacts of climate change on poverty within fisheries. Projects have also involved formulating ways of supporting adaptation and reducing the vulnerability of fisher folk and vulnerable economies. Communicating the findings of this research has sought to increase awareness amongst all key stakeholders to these effects.
Specific services offered and provided by MRAG include the following;
- Scientific data analysis for mapping the impacts of climate change on biological, social and economical factors;
- Understanding migratory patterns of fish species;
- Livelihood impact analysis for expected changes;
- Education and awareness programmes